We liked Smoke and Sacrifice, as you can tell from our review, so I got in touch with Solar Sail Games
PS4Blog: Hi! Welcome to PS4Blog.net. Could you please get us started by letting our readers know a bit about yourself and your work?
Tancred Dyke-Wells: Hi! We are the co-founders of Solar Sail Games. I’m Tancred Dyke-Wells, Artist and Creative Director at Solar Sail Games. I’ve worked as an artist and designer in the UK games industry for 20 years – probably my most significant achievement was devising and directing the Art Academy series for Nintendo, as well as the Battalion Wars games.
Neil Millstone: Hi, I’m Neil Millstone, programmer and Technical Director at Solar Sail Games. For me, the game I’ve made which I’m most proud of is exactly the same one! Working with Nintendo was a dream-come-true for me, being a Nintendo otaku for my whole life, and working together with those people who made it all happen was thrilling. I also had a great time dancing around in front of a web camera working on EyeToy with Sony Computer Entertainment.
PS4B: Smoke and Sacrifice is now out on Nintendo Switch and is coming soon to PlayStation 4. How would you describe the game to someone who’s never heard about it?
Tancred: Smoke and Sacrifice is dark, fantasy survival adventure. You play as Sachi, a mother who must venture into a strange and grotesque underworld in search of her stolen child. It’s a world full of odd characters and hostile creatures; Sachi must learn to turn the ecosystems to her advantage and to craft traps, equipment, food, armour and weapons to progress. You must uncover the mystery of the toxic Smoke that pollutes the world and enfeebles the people there and ultimately overturn the entire regime… there’s exploration, boss battles, story events and loads of combat and crafting! Above all, it’s a game driven by a meaningful story – we wanted our players to have a sense of purpose.
PS4B: How long did it take the team to develop the game? How have things changed between the initial concept phase and the version we got to review? Where there any particular hurdles or challenges you had to overcome during the development?
Neil: We were a team of one artist, one coder and, for some of the time, two designers (plus our external audio team). We were in full production for 18 months though it was almost exactly two years from when we founded the company to when we shipped. So our main challenge was building this epic, 20-40hr experience with such a tiny team but we had great fun doing it and hopefully players will feel the love that went into the game. Design-wise, the nature of the Smoke itself changed over time – originally it was much more a territorial thing, where players would be staking out areas and reclaiming them from the Smoke; but we ended up favouring the progressive ‘hero’s journey’ model, making a lot of reference to Zelda: Breath of the Wild in our design thinking – where the player is continually moving and discovering rather than base-building.
PS4B: Are you perhaps considering developing any additional content to be made available for Smoke and Sacrifice either as free or paid DLC?
Neil: We’ve been paying close attention to feedback from our players and although we’ve had some amazing reviews, we’re not resting on our laurels! We’re adding and improving features as well as making balancing adjustments in response to our community. And yes, we do also have a little more quest content on the way, no charge!
PS4B: And that’s all the time we have for today. Is there something else you’d like to add before we end this one?
Tancred: Just to say thanks to our players for all the love and feedback, it is super motivating to hear the emotional response people have had to the game. We really put heart and soul into the game so it’s hugely rewarding when that translates into audience enjoyment.